Vanity in Iceland

In which Michael Lewis learns what a "ruddi" is.

Quite fascinating Vanity Fair article on Iceland's Finanicial Whiz Kids and the general mood.
Thanks for the pointer Bob.

Lewis, to be fair, misses out on some things.
First of all, the Icelandic financiers weren't as naive as he claims - for one thing many of them still have their money; for another, some of the really smart ones got out, or are embedded in US hedgies by now; and, finally, Lehman failed first, actually so did Bear Sterns - the Icelanders were overexposed and over-leveraged and had horrible systemic risk exposure, but they fell first and hard not just because they were out the furthests, but also because some of the supporting international structure had already collapsed.

The "Icelandic uniqueness" riff is a load of crap really, yeah there were a bunch of dumb lads who thought they were kings of the universe, but they were the same dumb lads that were on the floor and corner offices at Merrill Lynch and AIG UK and Bear Sterns.

They should go into fisk.
When I were a lad, everyone but everyone did a turn in the fish industry, either boats or factories. It gives a healthy perspective some of the "cuddly generation" never got.
Now they will get it.
I did a summer as a teen before landing better jobs, paid well, and I once estimated that I processed more food in those months than I will ever consume. So that is my bit done.

Oh, and the Danes really were just jealous. Doesn't mean they were wrong.

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"and the Danes really were just jealous."

Were not!

(Actually, I'm concerned for the Icelanders I've met over the years. The ones who live and work here are probably going to be fine, though.)

The bubble was quite well described years ago in the Danish tabloid, Ekstra Bladet. As I recall, the Icelandic government wanted them to retract their statements (to no avail). Then Kaupþing got miffed and dragged the paper into court -- in England -- for libel. And won!

Libel law is famously boneheaded in England and the English apparently view the entire world as their bailiwick, at least when it comes to things published on the internet as long as it can be accesed in England.

A couple of links:
(The Icelandic Embassy in Denmark)

"Autumn 2006, a series of articles were published in the online version of Ekstra Bladet, concerning the activities of Kaupthing Bank.
Ekstra Bladet published allegations on it's website that Kaupthing Bank was guilty of serious financial wrongdoings.
Ekstra Bladet has now apologised to Kaupthing Bank and chairman Sigurður Einarsson, for the articles. The apology will be carried on Ekstra Bladet's website for a month. Ekstra Bladet has also agreed to pay Kaupthing substantial damage costs and reasonable legal costs. The articles are never to be published again."

"[...] These allegations were completely unfounded and highly damaging to both the Bank and to Mr Einarsson. [...]"
Some blog posts about libel tourism and Kaupþing's conduct.

By Peter Lund (not verified) on 04 Mar 2009 #permalink